In a world with Sancho and no Busquets/Carrick like options, do we need a playmaking 8 (and need a world class 6 as a result)?

SinNombre

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Last season, all our creativity came from Bruno at 10, Pogba at 8 (or left midfield) and Shaw as the leftback.

With Sancho, we will have one of the most creative wide players. We are also still looking to get an attacking rightback as an option for low block teams.

This is not a Pogba-bashing thread by any means, since he is a fantastic player in the right system, but can we build a solid functional team with no gaps by instead playing 2 box-to-box midfielders instead of trying to find that elusive Carrick like 6 that could pair with Pogba.

We have been linked with the following mids
Camavinga
Goretzka
Saul

2 of the above 3 are out of contract in a year, and Saul is available for a reasonable price.

Would the front 6 below be defensively compact but with enough creativity and goals?
------------------------Cavani
Rash/Martial-----Bruno---------Sancho
----------------Cama/Saul----Goretzka
 

bosnian_red

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Oh for sure. We need ball progression and solidity from deeper midfield, they don't need to provide the final ball creativity so much. Scholes didn't rack up the assists for us, but he was the perfect deeper playmaker later on. Pogba wouldn't fit that deeper role at all with that attack, Rashford and Sancho don't track back much so you need a very strong defensive midfield pairing to balance out that front 4. Bruno does good work as a 10, but we can't have a midfielder who is weak defensively. Camavinga would be very good as one, and we'd need more of a sitter next to him IMO to keep is positionally solid. Goretzka isn't happening anyway, but generally we'd be fine.

I can see a world where we get Camavinga, pair him with Garner if he keeps on progressing, to sit behind Rashford, Sancho and Greenwood front 3 with Bruno the 10.
 

JakeC

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If we got the right midfielder in, Depending on the game Fred or Mctominay beside Goretzka would he perfect
 

gajender

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Last season, all our creativity came from Bruno at 10, Pogba at 8 (or left midfield) and Shaw as the leftback.

With Sancho, we will have one of the most creative wide players. We are also still looking to get an attacking rightback as an option for low block teams.

This is not a Pogba-bashing thread by any means, since he is a fantastic player in the right system, but can we build a solid functional team with no gaps by instead playing 2 box-to-box midfielders instead of trying to find that elusive Carrick like 6 that could pair with Pogba.

We have been linked with the following mids
Camavinga
Goretzka
Saul

2 of the above 3 are out of contract in a year, and Saul is available for a reasonable price.

Would the front 6 below be defensively compact but with enough creativity and goals?
------------------------Cavani
Rash/Martial-----Bruno---------Sancho
----------------Cama/Saul----Goretzka
Not enough creativity and guile in the team if we are basically jettisoning Pogba for Sancho, if Pogba is staying then Solskjaer needs to be brave and play him in the Midfield I am fairly confident we would be better team with him instead of Mcfred combo even though we might have to sacrifice some defensive stability.

But if Pogba is leaving then it's imperative we get another creative no 8 or no 6 don't know much about Cama/Saul or Goretzka but if they are just defensive box to box players with limited creativity it wouldn't work that well because as team we even now are hardly creative our attackers despite popular perception of underperforming have done well and over performed relative to our poor chance creation.
 

CanadianUtd

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You make a pretty good point. It’s well known the team is overly dependent on a sole player(s) in Bruno (and Pogba) to create for everyone around them. Sancho gives us another player who can do that so it depends if the manager/club think that’s sufficient enough.

As much as many including myself want a natural, colossal DM like Rice - I could see the case if the team opted out for a defensively sound but competent ball playing #6 instead. We currently have McFred but neither have playmaking capabilities nor are they natural DMs; instead ball winning CMs who press to try and win the ball back. To their credit, they’ve done the best they could as they’re forced to play DM with the team not having any better regular options. And when either of them play, it’s not an optimal situation at all as neither are playmakers to help progress the ball/break teams down or defensively sound enough to play more of the DM role which they’re relied to.


------------------------Cavani
Rash/Martial-----Bruno---------Sancho
----------------Pogba———Camavinga
^you seemed to have forgotten Pogba so I included him. That would be quite excellent if we opted for the more playmaking minded b2b #6 over a robust DM. Camavinga isn’t as creative as Pogba playmaking wise (let’s be real, almost no one in world football is) but he’s much more reliable defensively and can pick and choose the spots when he has to advance. If we were to get him, what I’d mostly love is how raw of a talent he is - being so young, there’s so much more beneath the surface that is yet to be unearthed.

...and if the Varane links are true (with all points signalling it’s looking like United or bust for him), if Camavinga was brought in on top, I’m certain Pogba would be more than happy to play out his final year having added 2 of his international teammates. And best of all? Even if Pogba decided to walk at the end of next year, Camavinga would already be there to take over his role. He could then be moulded to become even more of an attack minded playmaker and the team can then focus on bringing in more of a defensive #6 as Camavinga’s role would be this upcoming season if they choose to look externally (still having the likes of McFred, Garner, etc). Maybe Rice or someone becomes available for less $$ as was the case with Sancho if the player pushes for a move!

Not going to lie, I’m liking this school of thought the more I think about it. As long as they get the right player and don’t settle for someone less (a Fred type who’s not responsible enough to play DM nor creative enough to add anything considerably in helping progress the ball up the pitch), then by all means do it.
 
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Blood Mage

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Goretzka would be an unbelievable signing and an upgrade on Pogba, but I strongly doubt he'll leave Bayern. Camavinga or Tielemans would also be welcome additions.
 

FatTails

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Is the Goretzka thing even remotely likely? I try not to get sucked into transfer BS but this one would have me go proper transfer muppet if it starts gathering pace :nervous:
 

Teja

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I know you said this isn't a Pogba bashing thread but I'm unclear what scenario you're talking about here. Are you saying Pogba isn't good enough to play that role next year? Or are you already looking forward to end of next year when Pogba potentially leaves United?

EDIT I think I see what you're saying. I've been thinking a bit along the same lines here.

If you look at the most successful midfields over the past 10-15 years or so, they have three functions -

Defending / Cutting off passing lanes / winning the ball back
Ball Progression / Passing / Tempo control
Ball Carrying / Running / Assisting / Through balls etc.

Busquets (DM + Progression) + Xavi (Ball Progression, Tempo, Assisting) + Iniesta (Dribbling / Carrying / Assisting)
Casemiro (DM) + Kroos (Progression) + Modric (Dribbling / Carrying)

Sometimes the functions are a little mixed up but in the end they need to be fulfilled by some player on the side.

e.g., Makalele (DM) + Essien (Running / Progression) + Lamps (Scoring / Assisting).

Re: Is a #6 really necessary or can Pogba + Fred + Bruno successfully split all these functions amongst themselves somehow - We have to see if Ole can make it work. The natural solution is to get a specialist DM, drop Fred + McT and let Pogba fill that hybrid of Kroos + Yaya role. I don't think Ole believes this is necessary - even when he plays Matic, he plays him as a box to box 8 rather than an out and out DM. I'd love to see him get a proper pre-season and tinker a bit to see if he can get it to work.
 
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Valencia Shin Crosses

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Yes the front 6 you pointed out would probably be good enough creativity wise to be an excellent side, but the discussion is pointless as you have replaced Pogba with one of the best box to box mids in the world and put him alongside another upgrade in our midfield. So it's quite unrealistic to even think about currently. However, we do already have a top class midfielder that is probably the best passer in the world on our team already, so unless he is sold off we should be looking to pair him with a suitable partner instead of trying to change entire systems or do the mix and match game with our lesser options.

And before anyone says it, yes Fred is a useful player but he's quite bad positionally in a holding role and he's pretty useless in the final third, not to mention his tendency for sloppiness while under pressure. If he was better at one of those things then I'd say yeah lets stick with him, but he currently hasn't shown anything to warrant that confidence. Getting a player next to Pogba that can pass confidently while reading the game defensively is vital. Basically I'm of the opinion that if you stuck 2017 Matic into this side with Sancho and whichever CB we sign we'd challenge for the league and be big threats in Europe. That version of Matic is the ideal type of player to put in our system.
 

Eddy_JukeZ

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Goretzka would be a great signing

I highly doubt he leaves Bayern though

Also Rashford is a creative player
 

In Rainbows

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I've been hoping we produce that type of midfielder for a while. I wanted Gomes to be that, but he hasn't played there at first team level (and he left), so I'm kind of pinning my hopes on Hannibal, while understanding how incredibly difficult it is to even make it at the top level.
 

Borys

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Absolutely yes. We don't need a playmaker in midfield, for two reasons:
1. We play top-heavy, meaning 2 strikers plus two wide forwards who are rarely involved in buildup/beating pressing. That will hopefully change with Sancho coming.
2. We generally avoid progressing with the ball through midfield. It's clear as a day the game plan is progress through the wings, or play directly from defense to forwards. It happens whoever plays in midfield, so that's clearly instructions.

We need two energetic, good on the ball, strong defensively players with midfielder brain. The reason we looked good with Fred and McTominay in midfield is because they are the closest to what we need, although not enough for the top level opponents. Pogba is good on the ball and that's it, he doesn't have the energy and awareness of a midfielder, and more often then not the team looks unbalanced with him in central areas. Balanced midfield > super creative midfield but weak off the ball - at least for current United side. That means we can play Bruno/Pogba in advanced role and let them do what they want.

Main reason we can't progress with the ball against well organized, pressing teams is because the team is so stretched- midfielders really have limited passing options so unless we're getting top class player, we will be disappointed. I see no problem with the front line, it'll click sooner or later. I'd expect Greenwood and Rashford to do better next season, Sancho will add some numbers and Cavani just needs to avoid Twitter.

I really wouldn't worry about creativity and goals in this side. What we need is an all round supporting midfielder - I'm sure it's achievable this summer.
And I'm looking forward to the day we stop imagining scenarios where Pogba is finally "unlocked" because that's not happening.
 
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devilish

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If we don't sign a top DM then we'll end up with McT-Fred as our first team midfield duo. Its as simple as that. The ball need to be won by someone and if one player can't do it then we'll have to add someone else to do this one man job.
 

Bebestation

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If Hannibal, Pogba, Garner, Bruno and possibly Fred are creative players capable of playing CM - is another creative player really what we are lacking?
 

devilish

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If Hannibal, Pogba, Garner, Bruno and possibly Fred are creative players capable of playing CM - is another creative player really what we are lacking?
Fred is as creative as current Philip Neville is. He is the football version of Scholes/Jenas punditry
 

Bebestation

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Fred is as creative as current Philip Neville is. He is the football version of Scholes/Jenas punditry
He can make the passes and through balls but never the assist.

He isn’t that bad especially for Brazil.

Anyway, what does a deep lying playmaker achieve in our team that Pogba and Bruno cannot?

Just wondering?
 

Borys

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If Hannibal, Pogba, Garner, Bruno and possibly Fred are creative players capable of playing CM - is another creative player really what we are lacking?
That is one bizarre combination of words into a sentence, but I'd answer: no, we don't really need another creative player. And I'd answer the same even with Pogba leaving.
 

TrustInJanuzaj

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He can make the passes and through balls but never the assist.

He isn’t that bad especially for Brazil.

Anyway, what does a deep lying playmaker achieve in our team that Pogba and Bruno cannot?

Just wondering?
Set the tempo for our team. We desperately need to control games at the highest level. You simply cannot do that without a midfield controller. Someone who is press resistant and has a good passing range. Until this team learns to control games more actively we will never compete regularly at the very top. We simply don’t produce enough chances for our front line players because of that. It’s reactive football rather than proactive.
 

Escobar

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A player like Verratti would be what we need. Locatelli comes close imo
 

jackal&hyde

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A big part of the problem with our defensive "stability" comes from the CBs. They don't complement each other and that is imo the reason we go so often with a mostly defensive double pivot of McFred. Getting someone like Varane in would go a long way to fixing that and hopefully give a lot more confidence to playing a double pivot that includes Pogba plus the all action mid like Fred or McTom. Is it perfect? No. But no team is perfectly balanced.
 

Bebestation

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Set the tempo for our team. We desperately need to control games at the highest level. You simply cannot do that without a midfield controller. Someone who is press resistant and has a good passing range. Until this team learns to control games more actively we will never compete regularly at the very top. We simply don’t produce enough chances for our front line players because of that. It’s reactive football rather than proactive.
I don’t know man, maybe I’m looking at things the wrong way but the deep lying playmaker thing seems a bit old fashioned to me.

Let’s look at Real Madrid - 2 very creative midfielders that only worked a level above when a midfielder like Casemiro gave them the balance.

Liverpool was a team that was getting in to CL finals with a flat hard working midfield players like Henderson, chamberlain, widjnaldum etc . Fabinho came after and wasn’t exactly giving a tempo to their play like the recent Thiago Alcantara has - someone who I think has been average.

City are winning PL’s and Making CL finals with Fernandinho and Rodri - they can make a pass but are they exactly deep lying playmakers? Or do they get that creativity and tempo more from De Bruyne playing as a CAM/CM hybrid player?

I mean the only deep lyin GB playmaker type player I really remains in the top PL teams are Jorginho for Chelsea - who had a great season post Lampard; but I also think Kante was much more important than him.

Kimmich I guess is another important player that Bayern had alongside Thiago - but I didn’t find the latter all that great even before he joined Liverpool. I guess Barcelona’s de jong maybe another player - but as good as he looks when playing; he hasn’t exactly been a must have style of tactic has he?

I’m probably just being biased - but if Pogba still remains one of main output players for next season then I don’t really see why we need creativity again next to him and Bruno.

Carrick, Pogba and Bruno or Scholes, Pogba and Bruno doesn’t seem right to me.
 

bucky

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There are options for playmaking midfielders from deeper. Carrick only became more of a holding midfielder later, when he was getting older. Which doesn't mean, we need exactly that sort of player like Busquets, Carrick or Jorginho. Ideally we get one playmaking midfielder and another midfielder, who is also a good passer, but is the more aggressive one of the two, who wins the ball back and presses a lot. The latter we basically already have with Fred and McTominay, but they could be upgraded upon, specifically their passing.

No, that wouldn’t work at all.

This on the other hand could be the perfect solution for a Bruno and Pogba midfield combination
This might work against teams that sit back against us, which is the majority, but against teams that are having a go at us, it wouldn't work. It would have to be the diamond with another midfielder in there. Or Pogba as the LM/LW.
 

Sparky Rhiwabon

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Is part of the problem for us that Bruno isn’t really part of the midfield at all, rather more of a “second striker” / advanced no.10? Therefore we're looking for a midfield two that performs all the required functions, rather than a three, making it much more difficult. If Pogba was the advanced player of a three then it’s a different story altogether
 

rimaldo

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they woke up today in a world without sancho,
pained black and yellow cries of “stop. please. oh no,”
a team devoid of creation, haaland isolated,
while hairy handed mancunians masterbated.

glory days long forgotten, their star striker next,
“das ist vorboten,” tapped up by norwegian sext.
a world without sancho, a living hell, it’s true,
nothing left except relegation zu bundesliga 2.
 

justsomebloke

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As much as many including myself want a natural, colossal DM like Rice - I could see the case if the team opted out for a defensively sound but competent ball playing #6 instead. We currently have McFred but neither have playmaking capabilities nor are they natural DMs; instead ball winning CMs who press to try and win the ball back. To their credit, they’ve done the best they could as they’re forced to play DM with the team not having any better regular options. And when either of them play, it’s not an optimal situation at all as neither are playmakers to help progress the ball/break teams down or defensively sound enough to play more of the DM role which they’re relied to.



seemed to have forgotten Pogba so I included him. That would be quite excellent if we opted for the more playmaking minded b2b #6 over a robust DM. Camavinga isn’t as creative as Pogba playmaking wise (let’s be real, almost no one in world football is) but he’s much more reliable defensively and can pick and choose the spots when he has to advance. If we were to get him, what I’d mostly love is how raw of a talent he is - being so young, there’s so much more beneath the surface that is yet to be unearthed.

...and if the Varane links are true (with all points signalling it’s looking like United or bust for him), if Camavinga was brought in on top, I’m certain Pogba would be more than happy to play out his final year having added 2 of his international teammates. And best of all? Even if Pogba decided to walk at the end of next year, Camavinga would already be there to take over his role. He could then be moulded to become even more of an attack minded playmaker and the team can then focus on bringing in more of a defensive #6 as Camavinga’s role would be this upcoming season if they choose to look externally (still having the likes of McFred, Garner, etc). Maybe Rice or someone becomes available for less $$ as was the case with Sancho if the player pushes for a move!

Not going to lie, I’m liking this school of thought the more I think about it. As long as they get the right player and don’t settle for someone less (a Fred type who’s not responsible enough to play DM nor creative enough to add anything considerably in helping progress the ball up the pitch), then by all means do it.
McTominay doesn't press much actually - he sits back. That seems to be the division of labour between them, Fred mainly does the pressing. If you look at their stats, they're not what you'd associate with a primarily defensive midfield duo. They can more accurately be described as all-rounders. Fred most definitely adds quite a lot to progressing the ball up the pitch, and McTominay also has some offensive impact, though in other ways (scores quite a few goals, for example). Defensively, they're both very good.

Camavinga does not look anything like a playmaker type to me. He's great defensively and with the ball in his feet, but he's not a visionary passer type. More like Kante than Pogba from his statistical profile.
 

tomaldinho1

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No - what we have now is plenty on paper but it’s about making it work, finding a system (or systems) where we can create.

I also think this forum needs to stop with the whole AWB = defensive full backpurely based off the fact he’s great defensively. He actually was pretty good 2nd half of the season and there’s no reason he won’t improve on that again now there’s a player in front of him who postionally plays RW properly.

My hope this season, realistic hope given Ole won’t leave the double pívot, is essentially just to see less draws + a less pragmatic approach to games against weaker teams.

Creativity is there but it has to be given license and risk to make a difference.
 

dal

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First of all please don’t mention Martial, if Rashford was injured then I’d rather play Sancho on the left and Greenwood on the right.

Secondly Fred and Mctominay have been brilliant for us they both won’t be dropped. We can improve for sure but Fred is good at what he does. I like him in there.
 

Borys

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Is part of the problem for us that Bruno isn’t really part of the midfield at all, rather more of a “second striker” / advanced no.10? Therefore we're looking for a midfield two that performs all the required functions, rather than a three, making it much more difficult. If Pogba was the advanced player of a three then it’s a different story altogether
It's the main problem, along with playing two other forwards who are not that good back to the goal (Rashford and Greenwood). The reason why I like Pogba so much on the left wing/midfield (I prefer him over Rashford against packed defenses) is because he plays well with his back to the goal and is good at passing in triangles.

Also, like you said we're looking for all-round midfielder which is actually easier to find than one perfect deep lying midfielder/DM combo.

Agreed about Pogba in the most advanced role, it's surprising he never plays that role for us though. There was maybe one or two games when Paul played in front of midfield two, he always plays deep or on the left (example Pogba deep, van de Beek in attacking role). Which is weird as it'd be a better option than playing knackered Bruno.


No - what we have now is plenty on paper but it’s about making it work, finding a system (or systems) where we can create.

I also think this forum needs to stop with the whole AWB = defensive full backpurely based off the fact he’s great defensively. He actually was pretty good 2nd half of the season and there’s no reason he won’t improve on that again now there’s a player in front of him who postionally plays RW properly.

My hope this season, realistic hope given Ole won’t leave the double pívot, is essentially just to see less draws + a less pragmatic approach to games against weaker teams.

Creativity is there but it has to be given license and risk to make a difference.
I agree with this post. I am sure we will see less pragmatic approach against weaker teams because that was what happened last season (we were shit scared after first 3 games and were attacking with front 4 only, while we finished the season with both fullbacks bombing forward and all players contributing offensively).

My only worry is we won't have enough quality in midfield to win against the top teams. In most cases when we actually went for a win, we were beaten. We got many draws because both teams were satisfied with a point, don't think that is a reflection of actual performance/quality.
 

dinostar77

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The way Ole likes to play means ideally you need a no6 or no8 who is capable of those long passes to the forwards during transitions of play.

The perfect 3 man midfield is passer, creator, destroyer. An example being Alonso (passer), gerrard (creator) and mascherano (destroyer). If you can get 3 high quality midfielders in those roles then that opens up all sort of options for how you play and transitions.

We arent far off we have Bruno (creator), Pogba (passer), we just lack a very good (doesnt have to be world class) destroyer.

As good as Sancho is he still needs to be fed the ball especially on transitions as quickly as possible under Oles system to allow him to do the most damage.
 

justsomebloke

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I don’t know man, maybe I’m looking at things the wrong way but the deep lying playmaker thing seems a bit old fashioned to me.

Let’s look at Real Madrid - 2 very creative midfielders that only worked a level above when a midfielder like Casemiro gave them the balance.

Liverpool was a team that was getting in to CL finals with a flat hard working midfield players like Henderson, chamberlain, widjnaldum etc . Fabinho came after and wasn’t exactly giving a tempo to their play like the recent Thiago Alcantara has - someone who I think has been average.

City are winning PL’s and Making CL finals with Fernandinho and Rodri - they can make a pass but are they exactly deep lying playmakers? Or do they get that creativity and tempo more from De Bruyne playing as a CAM/CM hybrid player?

I mean the only deep lyin GB playmaker type player I really remains in the top PL teams are Jorginho for Chelsea - who had a great season post Lampard; but I also think Kante was much more important than him.

Kimmich I guess is another important player that Bayern had alongside Thiago - but I didn’t find the latter all that great even before he joined Liverpool. I guess Barcelona’s de jong maybe another player - but as good as he looks when playing; he hasn’t exactly been a must have style of tactic has he?

I’m probably just being biased - but if Pogba still remains one of main output players for next season then I don’t really see why we need creativity again next to him and Bruno.

Carrick, Pogba and Bruno or Scholes, Pogba and Bruno doesn’t seem right to me.
I totally agree that it is antiquated to think in terms of one midfielder doing the creative work and another taking care of business in the other end. To some extent, today every top level midfielder has to be an allrounder, and contribute in both ends. Most of the players mentioned above fit that description. There is perhaps still a place for the classic holding midfielder who primarily focuses on the defensive side of things, but even that kind of player now tends to have significant impact in other aspects of the game too, at least on top teams.

In my view, that is the context you have to see the McFred pairing in - they get most of the starts because they are are our best all-round pairing, who is able to contribute in both ends, as well as in transition. This is what OGS is talking about when he says they bring necessary balance. But that tends to be interpreted around here as code for "more defence", and their use is seen as prioritising defensive needs over creative needs.

I don't think that's correct. They represent essentially the right approach, and the same one as other top clubs are taking. They're the right kind of players and the right thinking, the issue is just if they are good enough. If we are upgrading, we should ideally and primarily be looking for better versions of the same type of players, not for the next Michael Carrick.

But of course, the Pogba problem cuts across all of this. Because he is what he is, for good and bad. He definitely is not an all-round player, but a precious - maybe even unique - creative asset with some very serious defensive flaws. Which means that if he's going to play in the midfield, you have to get him a partner that can alleviate those flaws and focusses on that, which almost certainly means that neither player in the midfield pairing will be a good all-rounder. I'm leaning increasingly in the direction of just moving on from him.
 

AneRu

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Not enough creativity and guile in the team if we are basically jettisoning Pogba for Sancho, if Pogba is staying then Solskjaer needs to be brave and play him in the Midfield I am fairly confident we would be better team with him instead of Mcfred combo even though we might have to sacrifice some defensive stability.

But if Pogba is leaving then it's imperative we get another creative no 8 or no 6 don't know much about Cama/Saul or Goretzka but if they are just defensive box to box players with limited creativity it wouldn't work that well because as team we even now are hardly creative our attackers despite popular perception of underperforming have done well and over performed relative to our poor chance creation.
The obvious solution would be to make Pogba the creative 8 and buy a solid DM but I think the issue here is that Pogba is not a viable option in a midfield two regardless of who is partnering him. For me it would be to buy the a playmaking No.6 then rotate McTominay, Fred and VDB for the box to box role then settle for the one that impresses the most out of the three.

I think, inspite of his talent, Pogba’s fate was sealed the moment we signed Bruno and settled for the 4-2-3-1. He is not viable in a two and we would be too open if played a 4-3-3 with him and Bruno as the 8s whilst Bruno and Rashford are too settled in the team to lose their place to Pogba as good as he is those two give us circa 50 G+A per season - they are our primary attacking and creative force.
 

Borys

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I totally agree that it is antiquated to think in terms of one midfielder doing the creative work and another taking care of business in the other end. To some extent, today every top level midfielder has to be an allrounder, and contribute in both ends. Most of the players mentioned above fit that description. There is perhaps still a place for the classic holding midfielder who primarily focuses on the defensive side of things, but even that kind of player now tends to have significant impact in other aspects of the game too, at least on top teams.

In my view, that is the context you have to see the McFred pairing in - they get most of the starts because they are are our best all-round pairing, who is able to contribute in both ends, as well as in transition. This is what OGS is talking about when he says they bring necessary balance. But that tends to be interpreted around here as code for "more defence", and their use is seen as prioritising defensive needs over creative needs.

I don't think that's correct. They represent essentially the right approach, and the same one as other top clubs are taking. They're the right kind of players and the right thinking, the issue is just if they are good enough. If we are upgrading, we should ideally and primarily be looking for better versions of the same type of players, not for the next Michael Carrick.

But of course, the Pogba problem cuts across all of this. Because he is what he is, for good and bad. He definitely is not an all-round player, but a precious - maybe even unique - creative asset with some very serious defensive flaws. Which means that if he's going to play in the midfield, you have to get him a partner that can alleviate those flaws and focusses on that, which almost certainly means that neither player in the midfield pairing will be a good all-rounder. I'm leaning increasingly in the direction of just moving on from him.
Bingo. Fred and McTominay are just the best "base" for others to perform. Also, they are not only better at getting the ball back but they also move the ball better than any other midfield pairing we have. That doesn't mean they are the quality we need - personally I'd replace both of them and use McTominay as spare defender & Fred as second choice midfielder. But for now that's all we have and they deserve some credit for it.

One comment on Pogba - problem with him is not only his defensive flaws, he doesn't generally play well off the ball. He doesn't move making himself available for a pass, he doesn't look around and that's also why he loses the ball so often - it's more because of poor awareness than a bad touch. He is a player PURELY triggered by the ball at his feet, which sometimes works if he has a passing option up front, and sometimes doesn't when there is tight pressing and he has very limited options. I don't understand why some people still have faith he will become some kind of world class deep lying playmaker if paired with a perfect partner (whoever it is this week), because I don't see it in him except from fantastic passing range. All the mentioned #6s are totally different than Paul, with different skillset and mindset as well.
 

justsomebloke

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Bingo. Fred and McTominay are just the best "base" for others to perform. Also, they are not only better at getting the ball back but they also move the ball better than any other midfield pairing we have. That doesn't mean they are the quality we need - personally I'd replace both of them and use McTominay as spare defender & Fred as second choice midfielder. But for now that's all we have and they deserve some credit for it.

One comment on Pogba - problem with him is not only his defensive flaws, he doesn't generally play well off the ball. He doesn't move making himself available for a pass, he doesn't look around and that's also why he loses the ball so often - it's more because of poor awareness than a bad touch. He is a player PURELY triggered by the ball at his feet, which sometimes works if he has a passing option up front, and sometimes doesn't when there is tight pressing and he has very limited options. I don't understand why some people still have faith he will become some kind of world class deep lying playmaker if paired with a perfect partner (whoever it is this week), because I don't see it in him except from fantastic passing range. All the mentioned #6s are totally different than Paul, with different skillset and mindset as well.
Those are perceptive and interesting comments on Pogba. They ring true to me.
 

Bertie 2 Hats

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I wouldn't mind us putting in a cheeky bid for Marcelo Brozović.. Inter still owe us about half the transfer fee for Lukaku.. ;)
 

amolbhatia50k

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Sancho is a brilliant signing but it doesn't change the fact that we need more quality and passing ability in central midfield.
 

UNITED ACADEMY

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The way Ole likes to play means ideally you need a no6 or no8 who is capable of those long passes to the forwards during transitions of play.

The perfect 3 man midfield is passer, creator, destroyer. An example being Alonso (passer), gerrard (creator) and mascherano (destroyer). If you can get 3 high quality midfielders in those roles then that opens up all sort of options for how you play and transitions.

We arent far off we have Bruno (creator), Pogba (passer), we just lack a very good (doesnt have to be world class) destroyer.

As good as Sancho is he still needs to be fed the ball especially on transitions as quickly as possible under Oles system to allow him to do the most damage.
Unfortunately Pogba is not as good as Alonso in his ball retention and not as good as Gerrard in defending. So does Bruno.

France had world class destroyer Kante and it didn't stop them to conceded that 3rd goal from Pogba's poor ball retention vs Switz. Pogba Bruno and destroyer still lack of balance. The three man midfield with Pogba and Bruno might work out if we switch to 352 formation because at least there is another centre back to provide balance for Pogba & Bruno's weakness in midfield.
 

luke511

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The elphant in the room for me is - Bruno needs to be better in posession.
A midfield 3 of Bruno, Pogba, Camavinga could definitely work as long as Bruno offers defensive cover as well, he's more than capable of doing so. I feel like Bruno would benefit from a stricter role positionally, he was outstanding in the first half of last season playing the free role though so it would be a hard call.